Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Council Approves RNC Deal, Drops $6 Million Request

Move praised by mayor, convention backers.

By - Jun 1st, 2022 10:53 am
Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

After looking last week like it would effectively kill Milwaukee’s chance to host the 2024 Republican National Convention, the Common Council voted unanimously Wednesday morning to approve a contract framework without a controversial $6 million payment request.

The Republican National Committee must still award the convention to either Milwaukee or Nashville, a decision which is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

“The Common Council has taken a positive step forward by approving the contract to host a major political convention in the summer of 2024. I will sign the council at my first opportunity,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson in a statement.

“I am going to get some sleep tonight,” said Republican Party of Wisconsin vice-chair Gerard Randall when asked what went into getting the council to change its mind. After meeting for several hours last Thursday, the committee added a $6 million payment request and held off on further action.

VISIT Milwaukee CEO Peggy Williams-Smith, a leader in the convention effort, said lots of discussions with council members were held about the economic impact hosting the convention would have.

The VISIT CEO said she thought the council’s action would go a long way to helping Milwaukee land the convention.

The council approved the amended agreement without debate. But after the vote, a number of council members left the floor to shake hands with the convention boosters on hand.

Sitting in the council chamber were a number of convention advocates, including businessman Ted Kellner, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce CEO Tim Sheehy, restauranteur Omar Shaikh, political consultant Mike Tate and Williams-Smith.

“They actually did the right thing here for the city and the state,” said Shaikh. He said it took a large push to get the council approval.

Williams-Smith said she is now focused on making sure the hotel reservations are locked in. Others said they expected more negotiations to take place with the national committee.

The convention boosters thanked new Council President Jose G. Perez for working to get the council to approve the original framework.

Last week, Alderman Robert Bauman said the financial agreement was warranted because the state law prohibits the city from raising direct revenue via a hotel or sales tax.

Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa, who ultimately introduced the since-removed amendment, said last week she added the $6 million figure based on comments from Randall.

But Wednesday, Randall said he didn’t know how that figure was arrived at. “It wasn’t something I advocated for or threw out as a figure,” he said.

But he did introduce a surprise deadline last week. Randall said the RNC wanted the approval by June 3 and would award the convention later this month.

Convention backers praised the council for meeting the deadline.

The revised agreement doesn’t totally do away with the request for financial support. It requests that the city and local host committee “engage in a good faith effort” under which the host committee would provide a contribution to the city. Randall, a host committee member, said that such contributions have been made in the past and that his group would make a good faith effort to ensure it happens again.

The host committee is responsible for raising more than $50 million to host the convention. The security costs of the convention are to be entirely covered by a federal grant.

The convention is expected to have approximately 45,000 attendees and generate an approximately $200 million local economic impact.

Ald. Michael Murphy introduced Wednesday’s amendment and called for the council to approve the entire agreement.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Murphy of the unanimous result. He said it would also keep alive the city’s hopes of receiving support from the Republican-controlled State Legislature for a new sales tax to address its financial issues. “I think people recognize that to turn down the convention would have killed that dialogue going forward.”

Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic cast the lone dissenting vote against any piece of the legislative process. She objected to the procedural action of pulling the proposal from the Steering & Rules Committee.

“I would have preferred it would have stayed in committee,” said Dimitrijevic. “I thought we had more time, but I could see where this was going.”

She said she would have preferred a specific number be requested, but was okay with the amendment to request a good faith effort. “I’m not always the popular girl at the party,” joked the alderwoman about the lack of phone calls she received to change her mind.

What’s In The Agreement?

The 2019 city-DNC agreement required Milwaukee to coordinate a number of security patrols and escorts, provide safes or other secured containers for storage, create a free speech protest area, provide a network for security cameras, maintain free streetcar service and broadcast the convention on the City Channel (online and on channel 25). It also prohibited the city from selling virtually all convention merchandise and indemnified the committee from the city (and vice versa).

The 2022 RNC agreement calls for many similar provisions, including the free streetcar rides. The city must also work to secure parking for no less than 350 buses and 2,500 vehicles during the convention.

When Milwaukee won the DNC on March 11, 2019, the council rushed to approve an agreement that day and almost couldn’t satisfy the quorum requirement to vote on the agreement. Unlike the DNC agreement, the council is being asked to approve the agreement before a convention is awarded.

More about the 2024 RNC

Read more about 2024 RNC here

Categories: City Hall, Politics, Weekly

One thought on “City Hall: Council Approves RNC Deal, Drops $6 Million Request”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Well they’ll be good times for male prostitutes in the city.

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